Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a very nice wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
Benson’s cousin Lance sent invitations to all the family to come for lunch. Lance loved to cook, and he loved to cook for people even more.
Benson’s mother looked worried. “Lance wants us to bring our favourite food to share, but I can’t make something ordinary like blueberry muffins or roasted turnips. Lance would be disappointed.”
“You could make fried watermelon like we had last week,” Benson suggested.
“Absolutely not!” his mother said with a shudder. “You know that wasn’t supposed to happen. I was going to put the watermelon in the fruit salad and fry the potatoes but somebody swapped the bowls over when I wasn’t looking.” She looked hard at Benson, but he looked at the ceiling and hummed as if he didn’t know anything about it.
“We should invent something,” said Benson. “Cousin Lance loves trying new things.” He screwed up his eyes and tried to think like a cooking inventor. “We could have beetroot banana cheese burgers.”
His mother smiled. “Or magpie pie and rosella jelly.”
“Toasted toadstools and monkey feather stew,” Benson said.
His mother sighed. “You know what I’d really like?” she said. “Just something simple and delicious.”
“I know exactly what we should take,” Benson said. He told her.
“That’s a great idea,” she said. “Let’s do it.”
The next day everyone went to Lance’s for the special lunch. Benson’s mother brought a big basket. Aunt Lillibet had something on a plate with a tea towel over it, and Aunt Moss had a box that she was carrying very carefully.
When they got there, Benson’s cousin Elmer and his Uncle Elton were just arriving. Uncle Elton had a big bowl full of something green.
Cousin Lance was in the kitchen, looking unhappy. He said, “I’m so embarrassed. I wanted to make something special for you all. I have a new recipe for garlic swedes but when I made them this morning something went wrong and they were awful! Disgusting! Revolting! Yuck! I had to throw the whole lot out!” He looked very disappointed. Everyone else was disappointed too.
“All I have is some freshly-baked brown bread,” Lance said.
Uncle Elton coughed. “I was going to make cranberry mango foam salad, but the mango wouldn’t foam, and Elmer ate all the cranberries on his porridge, so all I brought is the lettuce,” he said, holding out the big bowl.
Aunt Moss said, “It looks delicious, Elton, so fresh and crisp.” She sighed. “I was going to make a pickled butter souffle, but somehow I got the pages of the recipe mixed up and I boiled all the eggs, so I couldn’t make the souffle. But I brought the boiled eggs along anyway.” She opened the box, full of brown eggs.
Aunt Lillibet said stonily, “I was going to make my famous raspberry upside cake – ” Everyone looked very cheerful for a minute. “But there were no eggs left.” She glared at Aunt Moss. Everyone stopped being excited. “So I just brought the raspberries,” she said, taking the tea towel off the plate.
Benson’s mother said, “We thought everyone would bring exciting, interesting, complicated things, so we decided to bring something plain and simple.” She opened the basket. Inside were some freshly-picked red tomatoes, still warm from the sun.
Cousin Lance looked at the things everyone had brought, and he smiled and smiled until his face was beaming. “Do you know what? My absolutely favourite lunch of all time is lettuce and tomato sandwiches with fresh brown bread and butter. They’re perfect with boiled eggs, and we can have fresh raspberries for dessert.”
Lance and Benson’s mother made the sandwiches, and Aunt Moss let Benson peel the boiled eggs. They sat outside under the old ironbark tree and had a picnic, and everyone agreed it was the most delicious lunch they’d had for ages.